Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Other Items

Iraq's Nassriya Water Treatment Plant, the country's largest reconstruction project, is a failure so far because it isn't delivering sufficient water to enough people, a new audit says.
Inspectors on two occasions in December and February found the U.S.-funded plant 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of Baghdad was operating at only 20 percent capacity, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in a new report released today.
"Potable water is only reaching a fraction of the Iraqi people for which it was designed and intended,'' Inspector General Stuart Bowen said in the audit. Two of the intended five cities, Ad Diwayah and Suq Al Shoyokh, weren't receiving water, he wrote.
The $277 million water treatment and distribution facility, built by a team of Houston-based Fluor Corp. and London-based Amec Plc, was completed by June 2007 and turned over to the Iraqi government for operation. Its failure isn't an example of waste as much as it is a tale of poor execution so far by the Iraqi government, Bowen wrote.

The above is from Tony Capaccio's "Iraq's Largest Reconstruction Project Is Failing, Audit Says" (Bloomberg News). Last Thursday, the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled "Implementing Smart Power: Setting an Agenda For National Security Reform." During the hearing, committee chair Joe Biden shared what he was told while visiting Iraq recently including, "Senator we produced and built the biggest water fountain in the world. . . . It's not hooked up to anything. Not a joke. Not hooked up." And explained that people in Sadr City were having to use buckets to retrieve potable water.

On Biden, UPI notes: "U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden says he sees no problem with Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battling it out for the Democratic presidential nomination.The six-term Delaware Democrat said whoever wins the nomination will have the party's support in November, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported Tuesday." Which transitions us into Barack Obama and yesterday's long-overdue and underwhelming speech, aka I Had A Pastor Who Was Mean. On NBC's Today Show, Andrea Mitchell reported on it. Various clips were featured including Barack speaking at a public rally attempting to downplay, "They're talking who -- who is he?" with Mitchell noting, "Earlier he took a different tone saying he was outraged. On Monday he was far less critical." Clip of Barack stumbling around about how some were saying "that my previous . . . uh . . . denuciation . . ." wasn't enough. Mitchell noted: "Critics say he should have known better." Meredith then interviewed a member of the clergy (I believe it was Rev. Eugene Rivers but I looked away and they didn't credit him onscreen after the intro). The pastor wanted to make it clear that Wright's comments were not typical of the Black church ("I want to say to the American people that is false" and that in Black churches "they don't pray in that kind of rhetoric") which is absolutely true; however, it is equally true that when Wright was finally under the microscope, you had apologists come forward and treat Wright's comments as normal. Not once, not twice, but repeatedly. He was just in Dallas, I believe at Friendly Baptist Church, on Sunday. The NAACP had him speak on Sunday as well (the Dallas pastor is attempting to become president of the NAACP). You had Bill Moyers promoting him as normal.

What Wright was saying was not normal. And the Black churches should not be associated with that. There is as much diversity in the Black churches as in the White or Latino churches. However, that's not been the media push has it? For weeks and weeks, he's had enablers (not just Barack) who've tried to act as if he was the norm.

The pastor on Today this morning may have been calling it out in real time (when it mattered) but I didn't catch it. That may be a media issue, it may be a case of circling the wagons. But it will strike many watching this new push as hypocritical because they were offended by Wright and they were told they were wrong to be offended and that they just didn't get Black churches.
That was the media push and in addressing Wright in the future, people need to grasp that.

Betty's father always points to the way Big Media (White) jumps on something that is not White and distorts it leaving the African-American community holding the bag when the narrative implodes. The media moves on and acts like they had no part in it. So anyone wanting to underscore that Wright was not typical of the Black churches (and he wasn't) needs to grasp that the media sold the narrative that he was. They also need to grasp that a number of African-American clergy did as well. They offered praise. They rushed to defend. They offered excuses. In this instance, Big Media didn't act on their own. They couldn't have because they are so overwhelming White. So the questions are were African-American clergy who were offended shut out of the debate or did they self-silence? Meredith noted that she interviews Barack and Michelle Obama tomorrow morning.

On CBS' The Early Show played a clip from yesterday's speech where Barack said, "All it was was a bunch of rants . . . uh . . . that were not grounded in truth." Harry then asked Bob Schieffer explained, "The question now is will people him?" Him is Barack. Schieffer listed the questions people would be asking such as, "Why didn't he know about all this before? Why didn't he stop going to the church?"; and wondered, "Will this be enough?"

Over at ABC's Good Morning America, Diane had the day off and Charlie Gibson was on leading to non-stop fluff ("Diane, you dirty rat!"; his alarm clock told him something was wrong when he sat it for 4:00 a.m.; he wants GMA renamed "Good Morning America with Charlie Gibson," joshing -- hopefully joshing -- disputes over how he's supposed to do the intro for the Dancing With Stars 'report,' etc.) which didn't leave much time for anything that even qualified as infotainment. Dan Harris was on spitting out what he was told to say on a gas tax holiday. ("Supply and demand" was his answer to everything -- remember, he wasn't trained in economics and this was below remedial for that reason -- that and the fact that Gibson was also out of his depths). (He didn't grasp that this was a temporary measure to provide relief for Americans that need immediate relief. This is not a new policy that Hillary Clinton and John McCain are propsing. This is a temporary measure that would grant some immediate relief and those standing in the way of it better grasp that the excessive gas prices effect travel and it's really going to be an issue as families and individuals take summer vacations. It's why airline tickets are going up. Those traveling at all this summer should remember who shot down the idea. Hillary's proposing a windfall tax on Big Oil to make up the lost tax revenues, McCain's not proposing that which is why she points that although they are in agreement that the American people need a break, only her plan pays for it. Barack Obama is against the gas tax holiday. It's a temporary measure designed to provide immediate relief -- not unlike the tax rebate checks people are now receiving and you don't hear Americans complaining about those. That too is a temporary measure, not a new policy. Those standing in the way of a gas tax holiday might want to leave their high perches and try mixing it up among real people because the holiday is sorely needed and that will only become more clear as summer hits.)

To Bob's questions listed this morning, you can add Carol Marin's "Obama took too long to denounce Wright" (Chicago Sun-Times):

Hours after Wright lobbed his last grenades Monday in Washington, the senator was questioned by reporters on a tarmac in Wilmington, N.C. And he still had nothing new to say, just what he'd said before, that some of Wright's comments "offend me, and I understand why they have offended the American people."
On Tuesday, after Obama's stinging denunciation of Wright, a reporter asked why he couldn't have said all of that on the tarmac?
Because, said the candidate, he "hadn't seen it."
Memo to staff: Please keep presidential hopeful posted.
This isn't the first time the campaign has waited out a problem, declining to take a controversy by the horns.
It took a relentless chorus of Chicago media almost a year to finally get Obama and his people to deliver long-asked-for documents and answer what were, at best, incompletely answered questions about his former friend and now-indicted fund-raiser, Tony Rezko. He finally did so in March.
There are judgment questions, fair ones, to be asked about Obama's past dealings with controversial people.

Equally true is that yesterday's speech has a "He wronged me!" tone to it. Barack already knew about the crackpot AIDS remarks. They didn't offend him before he made his nearly 4,000 word speech in Philadelphia. He cited the crackpot 'science' yesterday. But what it really sounded like was, "He can say anything and I'll stand with him! Unless he calls me a 'politician'!" That is a major subtext of the speech and the responses to question after -- and it goes to why Barack finally denounced his pastor, his mentor, his 'uncle', his 'crazy uncle' that he refused to disown until now. Apparently Barack operates under the belief that all of American should turn the other cheek with regards to Wright but when Wright questions Barack's honesty, it's time to get angry.

If you missed that, here's the key section:

What I had heard was that he had given a performance. And I thought at the time that it would be sufficient simply to reiterate what I had said in Philadelphia. Upon watching it, what became clear to me was that it was more than just a -- it was more than just him defending himself. What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that -- that -- that contradicts who I am and what I stand for. And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that -- that I am about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the -- the commonality in all people.

Please note, that's from the transcript the New York Times has posted. In reality there were about many "uh"s and pauses in those should-be-simple sentences. Anyone remember when one of the biggest complaints from Democrats was that Bully Boy couldn't even speak? But notice how so many today are eager to over look the fact that Barack speaks as poorly as the Bully Boy.

It's all about Barack. Not the offense Wright's remarks caused many Americans, not the junk science, just Barack. There's no movement, just a frenzied mob behind an empty candidate. He couldn't stand up for Americans but he could sort-of stand up for himself, hours and hours after he should have.

Barack's going to have a hard time spinning this (throughout the week) and the only one with more egg on their face right now is Bill Moyers for that hour long nonsense he aired last Friday where he tried to convince America that Wright was within the mainstream and just misunderstood. [Ava and I address the nonsense of Wright & Moyers here.]

Brandon notes Dawn Yingling's "What Hillary Means to Me" (

Dawn is a volunteer from Fishers, Indiana.
I had the unbelievable opportunity to stand on stage with Hillary Clinton in Indianapolis and speak about what her candidacy means to me -- all while she stood less than two feet away from me! Here's what I told the audience: I am a single mom with 3 kids, 2 of which still live at home. I work a full time job, I don't have a lot of free time, and I don’t have a lot of money. But when Hillary's campaign came to Indiana I knew, after volunteering (for the first time EVER) in the primary in Ohio back in March, and absolutely seeing what volunteers can do -- that I was going to have to get involved in my own "village" of Indiana.
I told the crowd how I work in downtown Indianapolis so I go to the downtown campaign office 4 or 5 days a week on my lunch hour and make calls to Hoosiers and talk to them about Hillary. I also come in two nights a week when my son is at his grandparents for the night. I canvas on Saturdays. I talk to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in Indiana every day. And I am so excited to hear the vast majority of them are planning on voting for Hillary. Sometimes I'm on the phone for under a minute -- "Yes, I'm voting -- pause -- You bet I'm voting for Hillary." But sometimes, I'm on the phone for twenty minutes, listening to someone's story, about their husband losing his job, or their mother who can't afford her medicine. I hear their story and then they tell me why they're voting for Hillary. Everyone has their own reasons and their stories are compelling and they remind me of why I'm not eating lunch again today, and why I'm still working long after my regular job ended.
I also spoke to the audience about going online and donating to the campaign. I told a crowd of strangers that I live paycheck to paycheck (not something you usually shout from a stage) -- but, I also told them that I have $20 a month deducted from my checking account and donated to the Hillary's campaign. I know it’s not much, but that $20 and the $20 of thousands of other people just like me who trust and believe in Hillary Clinton -- that money adds up! This campaign needs donations -- our opponent outspends us everywhere we go! Like it or not, it takes money to run a campaign, to compete even for the ears of potential voters, to give everyone a yard sign who walks in the office begging for one! So I asked that crowd of people to do what they would do for their kids baseball team -- donate time, donate money -- but this time, do it for their children's future. I think they got it. I think when you put it that simply; people understand that they have to get personally invested in their own future and their children's future. I couldn’t have put my $20 in better hands.

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